|The Dangerous Beaches Mapping Project research by Surf Rescue Research, headed by Frances Smith, PhD, Geography, UC Berkeley, 2004.
Website and maps designed by Darin Jensen.
Cartography by Darin Jensen, Kasha Parker, and Jenny Newell.
Additional research by Jenny Newell.
Area of Study
"beach -- a wave deposited accumulation of sediment (sand, cobbles or boulders) lying between modal wave base and the upper limit of wave wash." (Short, A. D. 1993 p.342)
The area of study is coastal beaches and their recreational use by human populations worldwide. The classification system developed by the Dangerous Beaches Group is based on California beaches. This system is designed to be universally applied to beaches that are studied worldwide that are used for recreational purposes. A map has been created that spatially locates dangerous beaches on a longitude and latitude coordinate system. The study area concentrates on coastal zones with large population centers such as; Los Angeles, California and Sydney, Australia. Associated with large population centers are persistent areas of coastal pollution. Other considerations were regions that contained dangerous marine organisms that are hazardous to humans. Additionally, natural features associated within the coastal beach zone have been analyzed and taken into consideration as detrimental elements to humans. Basically this is a worldwide study of mainland and island recreational beaches.
|Development of Beach Signs
The task was to formulate a sign system of classifying beaches so that people who visit them would have a general idea of the prevalent conditions that occur on a given stretch of coast. The signs are a precautionary measure to keep beach users out of harm's way.
The sign had to display a vast amount of scientific information, but be simple, so that it can be easily understood by a person strolling by from the parking lot to the beach. We had to come up with a way of letting people know that the beach they were entering was dangerous but in an informative manner that took into consideration all the prevalent beach conditions. We decided that there were four major factors that normally occur on all beaches that can be hazardous. They are Pollution, Geologic Hazards, Surf Zone, and Marine Wildlife. The sign also contains a symbol that indicates whether or not the beach is patrolled by lifeguards
The sign consists of a diamond shaped object that is divided into four separate sections. Each of the four sections are then classified by three separate colors, Red, Yellow, and Green.
In the center of the sign is a number. It is this number that prescribes the level of danger that any one beach may have that is posted with a "Dangerous Beaches Sign". The criteria set by this group for the numbering of the levels of danger are from 1 (being low risk) to 5 (being most dangerous). The colors signify the levels of caution that are scientifically prescribed by the criteria that is detailed in this paper.
The Numbering System works as follows for the Four Section Diamond Dangerous Beach Sign:
Level 1 Beach Consists of all sections of the diamond being designated as Green.
Level 2 Beach Consists of Three Green sections and One Yellow section on the sign.
Level 3 Beach Consists of Two Yellow sections and Two Green sections only.
Level 4 Beach Consists of Three Yellow sections and One Green section or Four Yellow sections but No Red sections.
Level 5 Beach Consists of any sign with at least One Red section. The sign also contains a small symbol that indicates whether or not the beach is patrolled by lifeguards.
Level 6 Beach
|The Production of the Dangerous Beaches Map
During the Oceans and Coasts seminar in 1999 a group was organized to revamp the original Dangerous Beaches Map. The original map, while very good as a hard-copy wall map, did not translate well to the web. It has been the task of the Dangerous Beaches Mapping Project group to find a way to portray the dangerous beaches data in a web-friendly format. This, hopefully, has been done successfully.
It was decided that several maps of larger scale would be better suited to the web than the one of small-scale map heretofore posted. The world was divided into logical regions and seperate maps made for each region. Therefore, there is no longer one Dangerous Beaches, but several.
The new maps are based on the existing data base from previous incarnations of the Dangerous Beaches Map and incorporates new data gleamed from a thorough examination of every Surf Report ever published.
The danger symbols have remained the same, though colors have been changed to enhance the distinguishability of different dangers. Also, the colors used have been tested for printability on black and white printers so that the quadrant(s) will show up for the purposes of research aids when printed in black and white. This is also one reason that the danger symbol has quadrants; the placement of the shaded area within the symbol will distinguish the particular hazard when color is not available.
The new maps were all made using GeoCart, Freehand 8, and Photoshop. Additional programs used in the creation of this web page are Fireworks, GoLive Cyber Studio, and BBEdit. To learn more about the original map, keep reading.
About the Original Map
During the seminar in 1996 a database was established containing information on beaches all over the world. This database is mainly based on data encountered in surfer literature, such as "The Surf Report" and pollution statistics. Quite a few beaches in the database are bulk loaded from pollution statistics, which is more easily retrieved than other information. Since certain types of data are easier to get hold of, the database will be dominated by polluted beaches and the impression of distribution and occurrence of dangerous beaches will be distorted.
The data gathered so far is quite insufficient and is not well distributed over the world. Many beaches in known dangerous areas are not marked on the map since no information on these areas exist in the database, that is, no information for these locations have been retrieved from our sources. No attempts have been made to actually classify the beaches in the database into different levels of danger. This is because there is not sufficient background information for a task like this. To achieve this a huge amount of information must be gathered and field trips are most likely necessary. I see it as the main issue for the future to gather additional information to improve the map's objectivity and representativeness.
One of the main elements of the Dangerous Beaches project is the identification of hazardous beaches. The best way to convey geographic data is with a map. It has therefore become necessary to produce a map that adequately and efficiently displays the results of the research.
The first dangerous beaches map was produced in 1996, mainly by James Scarborough. The 1997 map is based on this early map and to cover the whole process of the map making, this section deals with the procedure of taking the information from a database to a map, a step that was taken in last years seminar.
To achieve the locating of a large number of beaches the group chose to utilize some form of plotting software. The Macintosh based software Geocart by Dan Streebe was chosen because it is easy to import basic user data into and is designed for rendering customized projections. The application will accept users' latitude and longitude points in a formatted file and plot them in any number of projections along with the supplied layers of coastline, political boundaries, hydrography and so forth. Additionally, a license for Geocart exists in our home facility at the Department of Geography. The UNIX based solution considered would have built our application closer to the web but more distant from the Macintosh computing established with Berkeley geographers. Part of this convention is the use of Aldus Freehand 5 for graphic design. Geocart renderings are easily portable to Freehand and enforced the choice of Streebe's software.
Confirming Geocart and Freehand as the main graphics elements of the mapping project leaves the question of how to prepare the group's data. At the start of the mapping segment of the Dangerous Beaches project there existed already 200 identified beaches.
The natural choice is to place all the data into a database management system. Not only will the researchers be able to be more productive in the group's maintenance of the project but the cartography can be automated (this especially important if the GIS-solution will be taken on in the future). The mechanization comes from database software being able to export data into useful formats such as Geocart's import style. The specific database Dangerous Beaches chose is FileMaker Pro. The choice of this easy to use database reflects the goal of user friendliness and it's local availability in the Department. I have not much personal experience with FileMaker but according to information from James Scarborough, there were some problems with having Filemaker to spit out the desired file formats. This implies that another database or another version of Filemaker should be used in the future.
The process of storing beach data in FileMaker, exporting coordinates to Geocart, which renders a complete yet raw map, and doing the final layout in Freehand is fairly efficient and straight forward once the method has been established. There are, however, a few obstacles that were encountered along the way and some that remain. The first is the data conversion from word processor to database. This step should definitely be excluded from all further data input and the data should obviously be typed directly into the database. It is suggested that the cartographer and group work proactive to establish data standards for the research project. This will not only streamline the mapping effort but possibly encourage the group to consider basic research goals and the finer data resolution objectives earlier on in the endeavor. The 1996 seminar resulted in a map where the beaches are represented by red dots, that is, a dot on the map is dangerous for some reason but it will not tell us which.
The 1997 Map
One of the issues during the 1997 seminar has been to produce a more informative map distinguishing four different hazard classes: geologic, marine wildlife, pollution and surf zone hazards. The map was first planned to be produced using the GIS-software Arcinfo and ArcView, but as it turned out, the graphic characteristics of ArcView (the "output software") is still too crude to produce a satisfactory result.
The goal has been to produce a map where the beaches are marked with a symbol specific for the dangers at that particular beach. The map produced this spring shows the beaches in today's database. A few additions could have been made from the latest reports but they have so far not been incorporated into the database.
In the database are almost 80 beaches that are considered polluted and have been bulk loaded from Random House Atlas of the Oceans.
This crucial cartographical question turned out to be probably the most complicated one. We wanted the symbols to be able to give us information on four hazards, in different combinations. A limitation discovered with the ArcView software is that the markers created will be imported as bitmaps and are therefore squares. If we want a symbol that is not a square we have to expect to see a white "halo" around the symbol. This becomes a problem especially in areas where beaches are close to each other and where symbols will overlap. Any symbols we choose will overlap but we will at least be able to avoid these white areas if we use squares as symbols. This limitation in ArcView made me decide that to achieve the goal of making suitable symbols I had to go back to Freehand.
Once this decision was made the possibilities all of a sudden became indefinite. The choice still fell upon the square but a square that was rotated 90 degrees to become a diamond shape. This shape is a commonly used "danger shape" and was therefor thought to fill its purposes well.
When it comes to coloring we had two choices. We can either use a different color for each hazard or have a certain quadrant assigned for a certain risk and just mark it with red if hazard is on and white/gray if hazard is off. The advantage of having different colors is that hazard patterns will appear more clearly. After much of time spent on experimenting with colors the choice fell on bright danger screaming colors, such as magenta, yellow and red.
Problems will occur in areas were a lot of data exist, such as in the Los Angeles area and in Hawaii. The symbols will here overlap and the readability will be limited. The solution to this could have been blow-ups in addition to the world map and try to present these as insertions in one map, but the current map design will not allow this. As this project continues it might be a good idea to create separate maps for California, the East Coast, Hawaii and Australia. So far it is possible to handle the problem with "overcrowded beaches" by moving the symbols to the side and localize the beaches with arrows, but there are so many more beaches in these area that clearly have hazards within our categories that it most likely will become a future problem wh en additional data is gathered. To get an impression of the density of beaches in e.g. the California region, don't hesitate to visit: http://www.athand.com/sil/athand/__33ddf5aadbZ9T1m8AjU/editorial/foghorn/beaches
The new symbols representing four hazard categories was designed in Freehand5 and after a lot of experimenting with shapes and colors the choice fell upon a diamond shape, divided into four areas, one for each hazard. The symbols have to be small enough not to clog up heavily data represented areas so the colors play an important role in displaying the data. The CMYK-color combinations turning out to work the best were pure yellow (0,0,100,0), magenta (0,100,0,0), and the mixed colors red (0,100,100,0) and bright orange (0,30,100,0).